I’ll get the bad news over and done with first:

As far as I’m aware, this was my final entry of the year so this completes my 2018 full-house of competition snubs!

I do still have it mind to do a round-up of all of all my rejections, but this is mainly because I really like the working title of my blog post – ‘The price of failure’ – rather than any desire to dwell for too long on what has been a disappointing (and costly) exercise on the submissions front.

I’m not, however, too downcast about any this. I’ve had a great year in so many other ways and feel like I’ve learnt a lot too. I now have another five or six months before the next round of submissions begins and, for 2019, I will definitely be focussing my efforts and investment a little more carefully too. But there’s plenty more time to reflect on this at a later date.

Since June’s #30x30DirectWatercolour2018 challenge came to an end I’ve felt a little bit ‘lost’ for subject matter. I know that when I’m on a roll, it’s easy to talk myself into why I should try a particular view, even though I’m not sure I can do it justice. Equally, when I’m at a lower ebb, it’s easy to talk myself out of subject matters, or even painting altogether sometimes.

I’ve been suffering from a bit of this ‘lower ebb’ of late and have been struggling to work up much enthusiasm. In an effort to paint my through this minor blockage, I decided to take on a landscape view that I felt I could tackle in a loose and carefree fashion, and here’s the result:

A landscape watercolour painting by watercolour artist John Haywood
Grazing on a summer’s day

This was done super quickly, due in part to the heatwave we’ve been experiencing recently in the UK which meant that everything dried out almost immediately! I can’t help but think that there’s something quintessentially English about this view, the light, sky, colours, topography of the landscape, it all feels so incredibly familiar and very English. This effort fell into place pretty quickly and it felt nice to paint without much of a care.

I popped this onto my Instagram account and was surprised and delighted that someone expressed an interest in buying it straight away. Unfortunately, however, I don’t feel able to sell it, as I feel I can paint it much better! As I enjoyed painting this so much, and I’m quite clear in my mind how I can improve on it, I’ve offered to do another version or two of this scene so that the interested party can choose between them. The main areas that I’ll be looking to improve on are the tree – which I think needs to be less dense and handled with a little more lightness of touch with more sky showing through. As Edward Wesson used to say – so I’m told – trees need to have gaps in them to allow the birds to fly through. I’d also like to address the cows, which are the wrong scale, and don’t particularly look like cows! I’d also like to introduce some vibrant yellow into the pastures as there was a great swathe of cowslips in the pasture that I didn’t manage to capture in this painting which I think would give the view a real lift.

Speaking of real lifts that’s exactly what this painting has given me, and not purely because it generated some buying interest! It’s been a great reminder that sometimes the simplest of scenes can often be the most satisfying and that any amount of agonising over a painting is no guarantee of success.

11 thoughts on “Grazing on a summer’s day watercolour

  1. Lovely landscape. I understand why you might not be happy with the cows, but I wouldn’t be surprised if, after you repeat this subject a few times, the buyer decides they still like the first one best. Sometimes there is just something about a painting that speaks to you, even if it isn’t “perfect.” Sometimes it is the very imperfections that attract you.

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    1. Hi Mary and many thanks for this. I think you might be quite right too, after all, who are we to dictate what people connect with in a painting! If that does turn out to be the case, then fine and I’ll happily send this one on – but I’m still hopefull that I can do another version that we’ll both like better!

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  2. Your landscape is beautiful, so light, simple and fresh. If you hadn’t pointed out your little niggles about the scene I wouldn’t have noticed. Love your blog and what a good idea to use a whole sheet of paper, masked into thirty portions to do the 30x30watercolordirecto2018 challenge. Love your blog and look forward to following you.

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    1. Hi there and thanks so much for your kind comments about both my paintings and my blog – it really does mean a lot and it’s much appreciated. Hope that you’ll sign up to follow my adventures and endeavours, it’d be great to be able to keep in touch! Thanks again.

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  3. I love your landscape John and I know what you mean about the heat, I’ve had the same problem – paint drying on the paper in seconds and in the palette… ! So sorry about your final “snub” as you called it. Best not to count the rejections but count the blessings instead, concentrate on all the things that have gone well and the things you have learnt – these are the things that will help you move forward in a positive, productive way…

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    1. Thanks so much for this Evelyn – especially about the painting, I’m so pleased you like it. As for the competitions – I’m not particularly disheartened and, as you say, far better to focus on what’s gone well! At least the weather here has cooled off a little so the paint isn’t drying quite so quickly! Thanks again for your kind words and support!

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  4. Sweet English style landscape, thanks for sharing it. You mentioned in your intro you wanted to add a vibrant yellow to the pastures, excellent idea. I learnt from one of my instructors (Jacques Hébert) that putting some “red” into the landscape (distant horizon)
    makes it more believable. Good luck for the next submission. I admire your stamina!

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    1. Thanks so much for this. The most distant hills in this did have some light red in them but I think a more diluted wash would have made them recede even further into the distance, and I think a little more variance of grays for the distant trees gradually becoming greener from the mid-distance to the foreground would help too – hopefully all things I can try to do in my next version! Thanks again for such helpful and supportive feedback!

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